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Thread: No. 617 Squadron Avro Vulcans at Ohakea/Wellington 1959

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    Default No. 617 Squadron Avro Vulcans at Ohakea/Wellington 1959

    Wellington Airport, in the capital city of New Zealand, officially opened on the 26th of October 1959, with a big airshow that included many overseas aircraft. There were three Avro Vulcans that based themselves at RNZAF Station Ohakea and flew a three-ship display before a solo by XH498 (flown by S/Ldr Tony Smailes, with Bob Mitchell and other unknown crew members onboard). This aircraft has become well known because during its display it hit a downdraft and smacked its undercarriage hard onto the new runway, causing considerable damage to the Vulcan, resulting in an emergency landing at Ohakea and a lengthy repair.

    However i have never been able to establish which aeroplanes the other two Vulcans were. does anyone here happen to have their serial numbers please? And does anyone know the names of the other aircrew members involved, both in Smailes' aircraft and in the other two Vulcans? Or who the supporting groundcrew were too for that matter?

    Cheers,
    Dave

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    Hi Dave,

    If you don't get an answer on this site, try the one below, all they do is talk about No.617 squadron.

    http://www.lancasterbombers.net/Bomb...4db506ab6d849a

    Regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Dave, Not sure if you have now got an answer to your question but based on some info in the book The Vulcan Story by Tim Laming I believe one of the other two aircraft was XH502, and at least for part of the deployment (including its arrival in NZ from Darwin) it was flown by F/Lt Peter Thompson DFC.

    Hope this may be of some help. J

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    Thanks guys, much appreciated.

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    Dave,

    According to a report on page 149 of the December 1959 issue of the Journal of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand, the three Vulcan B.1s were XH498, XH499 and XH502. No crew names mentioned.

    Errol

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    Dave:

    Brief ref in Flight: http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchi...ulcan%20ohakea

    Mentions Smailes as part of crew of four but that's it.

    Robert

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    Many thanks Errol and Rob.

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    Dave, I googled Vulcan incident Wellington airport 1959. The first hit, among others, was this: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post...bers-near-miss I remember watching the incident and the aircraft climbed out into a fairly low overcast with one undercarriage assembly "swaying in the breeze" and a visible trail of fuel as it disappeared into the overcast. My father had watched the day before as the aircraft shot several touch-and goes. Regards, Terry

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    Thanks Terry. One of the Vulcans flew to Wellington on the 21st of October to check out the lay of the new runway. On the 23rd the three Vulcans did a full display practice - I am not sure but I assume at Wellington Airport, so this is probably when your father watched them. There was no flying on the 24th, the airshow was called off (this was the intended day of the airshow) due to bad weather. The weather was still poor on the Sunday, 25th of October, but the show went ahead. It was that day the wind caught the Vulcan and the accident occurred. It also did the same to the Sunderland. I believe a number of other aircraft, including lighter planes, had some very hairy moments too and some close goes. Not ideal at all.

    Interestingly - and I have never heard this elsewhere - according to the No. 617 Squadron ORB's Tony Smailes was actually planning to land and to park up for a static display. Most sources say he was doing a touch and go. Thanks to Errol Martyn for supplying those ORB details.

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    The successful touch and go seen in the clip at Terry's link is obviously from the practice session, as there's no crowd there. I suspect the three-ship formation shot is too, note the lack of clouds.

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